St. Petersburg, FL, Police Officer Chris Leister was busy taking down a basketball hoop when he heard a tussle by the water behind his Palmetto home.
It was Tuesday afternoon and Arek, a retired Palmetto police dog who was Leister's partner on the Palmetto Police Department and is now Leister’s pet, had been running around the yard with a toy and vanished behind a bush. It was out of character for Arek, who isn’t a big fan of water like some dogs are.
“Next thing I know, I hear a yelp,” said Leister, 50. “He comes from behind the bushes and he’s got this big rip and tear on his paw.”
An alligator had just bitten the right forearm of the 7-year-old Belgian Malinois. Though neighbors have described the alligator to be around nine feet, Tuesday was the first time Leister said he saw it, the Miami Herald reports.
Leister said he was told by trappers that Arek must have bitten the alligator back because one that big would not have let go easily.
Arek, who was given to Leister when he left the Palmetto Police Department for the St. Petersburg Police Department, worked alongside Leister for several years in Palmetto. Asked about their relationship, Leister described Arek as his best buddy.